We all like to step back and admire our completed projects. There's a
natural high to be derived. But during any project there are highs and
lows - aspects we love and don't love so much. What are yours?
Designing? Sanding? (and sanding, and sanding, and sanding . . .)
Finishing? Sawing? Whatever.
For me I think it's the design phase which (in my case) lasts for the
whole project because I design and adapt on the fly, as it were.
My low point is finishing because I can never get it quite right.
I think my low point has to be the last hour or two of a job. When you
can see that it's going to be piece to be proud of but there are still
those little things that need finishing. I constantly have to fight the
urge to rush it. Just calm down, take your time. I think I must use
these words a thousand times to myself. ;)
I know how you feel. My philosophy is to try to regard each of those
little things as a separate mini-job and the excellence of the whole
project rests on the quality of this little facet. Sometimes it works!
that's a great way to look at it.. one of the hardest things for me is having
patience, especially in finishing, since it's my weakest point..
Your philosophy of breaking it up into mini-projects/jobs is a good one and
I've just adopted it... (to a lot more than wood working, too)
Please remove splinters before emailing
I have a few high points. Fitting a tough piece perfectly, getting an angle
just right kind of thing is very satisfying.
Next is the first part of finishing. When you put on the first coat of
whatever (oil, poly, shellac) and the grain pops and is spectacular, that is
a big high. then, like you, when the finish is not as good as it could be
in the end it is a bit of a low.
1. Cut selection: laying out a half-dozen pieces of rough-cut stock and
figuring out what furiture components will be cut from which parts of what
boards, based on grain, prominance (tops and drawer fronts get the best
pieces), and lastly efficiency of material use. For me, it is one of the
most fun and creative parts of the process.
2. The first dry fit (I get to see if the real thing has the balance and
proportion of my 2D drawings)
3. The first layer of finish... getting to see the color come alive.
Good question... I think my favorite thing is crafting a joint that
will slide together or apart by hand, but fits well enough to hang
together on it's own. Equally important is revealing previously
unexpected grain patterns in just the right place. Next in line is
seeing that every component is square, plumb, and level (must be the
carpenter in me) and that moving parts (like drawers) move freely.
Worst part is finishing. Even with the Flexner book, it's still 90%
Voodoo and 10% Alchemy to me. These days I mainly just oil and wax,
or oil and then poly, if I need the extra protection. I try other
things from time to time, but I just don't have the touch yet- I
suspect it's mainly a matter of learning even more patience than the
fabrication aspects have taught me so far.
I like that bit, too. Seems like working from a plan stresses me out,
but doing stuff on the fly is not only fun, but quicker- and tends to
turn out a little better in any case. Probably has a lot to do with
not having to second-guess what somebody else meant.
Glue up. You can recover from other mistakes. But glue
up time is often High Anxiety. Here's an example of why
glue up has the greatest potential to be a "low".
I pretty much enjoy the whole process, particularly when I've gotten all the
pieces shaped and fitted.
Not so much a low point, but one of anxiety comes with a tricky glue up but
the most anxious I get is when
I'm staring at my completed (but unfinished piece) and about to slather goop
onto it. I know I can't go back at that point. All the other points can
be redone. I really get worked up just thinking about finishing a piece.
Yeah, I feel your pain. A few years back, I built a cherry blanket
chest for SWMBO for her 50th. It was raised paneled all 4 sides
with 3, front and back and 1 each side - each with their own rail
and stile (cope/stick).
I brushed glue on all joints as fast as I could, then
piped clamped in a frenzy-didn't have my Bessey's then (all 4
of them!). Ok, I called SWMBO to help out too.
Worked out ok - in fact, quite nicely. One of my better
Last week, I was gluing a face frame to the entertainment center
that I have been working on for the last 6-8 weeks. Well, it was
about 7 ft wide and 5 ft high at an angle at the top to follow
a 45 deg ceiling (our family room). Built in place - too big for
the shop. anyhow, just trying to get some Elmer's on all the
edges, align it all, clamp, put in a few nails - whew! That's a
day's work for a retired guy like me.
When the fresh glue is on, there is a certain
amount of angst that sets in.
BTW, how's that 1023 treatin' you?
I put a Forrest WWII in mine about a month ago. That turned
this great saw into an awsome saw.
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